The final week of campaigning for Sunday’s Bangkok governor election will prove decisive for candidates hoping to upset the current frontrunner, former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt, according to the director of the Office of Innovation for Democracy at King Prajadhipok’s Institute.
Stithorn Thananithichot said Mr Chadchart is not a shoe-in and that voters supporting Move Forward Party candidate Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn and other contenders could still pull off an upset.
Mr Stithorn said Mr Chadchart’s support base is made up of those who voted for the Pheu Thai Party and the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, as well as other parties in the 2019 general election, in addition to many who have become disappointed with the government.
He said any attempt to engage in “strategic voting” to help Aswin Kwanmuang regain the post he recently relinquished may prove futile due to the heavy competition from candidates from other parties as well as those running as independents.
Strategic voting sees voters eschew their preferred candidate if they are viewed as having a scant chance of winning, and opt for their No.2 choice instead to stop a candidate they dislike from triumphing.
Mr Chadchart took to Facebook on Tuesday to explain how he would work with Bangkok councillors from other parties if he wins.
The Bangkok governor race will be held separately from the election of Bangkok councillors, unlike the election of MPs who will then proceed to choose a prime minister.
Moreover, Bangkok councillors have no authority to hold a no-confidence debate against or remove the Bangkok governor from office. They are mainly responsible for issuing city ordinances, and considering budgets.
Mr Chadchart said running as an independent would make it easier for him to work with councillors from other parties.
He said he believed elected city councillors would be willing to work with the new governor to serve the best interests of the city’s residents.
Chuvit Kamolvisit, a former MP, said Bangkok voters tend to vote for candidates who oppose the incumbent government.
Standing out among them in this election are Mr Chadchart and Mr Wiroj, who are expected to be in fierce competition with one another as their supporters share similar political views, said Mr Chuvit, a former massage parlour tycoon.
Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the deputy national police chief, said 18,581 officers will be deployed to maintain order at 6,817 polling stations in Bangkok on election day.
Hopes are high for the election as it will be the first time in nine years that residents have been able to cast a ballot to choose the capital’s leadership.
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